Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disorder that, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, affects over 2.5 million people worldwide. The cause of MS has been linked to genetics, environment, auto immune dysfunction, and more, but while research efforts continue, a great deal of mystery remains. However, amongst all the mystery, a form of treatment known as Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) has emerged as a means to not only delay progression of the condition, but, in some cases, even reverse symptoms. “The results are unmistakable,” says Ben Benjamin, M.D., a renowned doctor of sports medicine, on AIS and its benefits for those suffering from degenerative conditions.
Active Isolated Stretching is a form of therapy developed by Aaron L. Mattes, RKT, LMT over 38 years ago that uses gentle, therapeutic stretching to restore musculoskeletal balance throughout the body. For those suffering from MS, Active Isolated Stretching can:
Stimulate Neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons in the brain) and Create New Neural Pathways
Multiple Sclerosis damages the protective covering of nerve fibers, known as myelin, compromising the neural pathway’s ability to communicate effectively and greatly disrupting the body’s Central Nervous System. However, studies have shown that learning stimulates the creation of new neurons in the brain and aids in the creation of new neural pathways. Since Active Isolated Stretching is active, rather than passive, and new range of motion is being reached on nearly every repetition, the body remains in a continuous state of learning throughout a treatment. This can help damaged nerve fibers regain function, or create new pathways to bypass those that are too severely damaged.
Spasticity refers to involuntary muscle contractions that can cause painful spasms and overly tight/stiff muscles, a symptom common to those who suffer from MS. AIS can effectively reduce muscle tension and thereby aid in the prevention of muscle spasms for those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
Active Isolated Stretching pumps a great deal of blood throughout the body delivering much-needed nutrients and oxygen to surrounding tissues. AIS also stimulates the flow of lymphatic fluid which helps remove lactic acid and other unwanted toxins.
Reach More Muscles
There are nearly 200 stretches in Active Isolated Stretching. This holds great importance since Multiple Sclerosis can affect different areas of the body in each individual. While working with MS patients at Mattes’ clinic in Sarasota, FL, it was noticed that a client’s toes would spasm regularly and inhibit his ability to walk properly. The way he felt on any given day would be directly related to the severity of such spasms. After working through active isolated stretches for the muscles of the foot and toes for a matter of minutes, the muscles in spasm released and the patient was be able to walk (and feel) more normal. Active Isolated Stretching treats the body from head to toe (literally) so it can reach muscle tissue in nearly all areas of the body.
Build Strength and Balance
Since each stretch requires you to contract the opposite muscle, AIS can help build muscle and restore balance in the body resulting in improved posture and stronger joints. There are also strengthening protocols in AIS which include exercises to address specific muscle weaknesses throughout the body. Studies have shown that exercise, including muscle strengthening, also has a positive effect on neurogenesis.
Multiple Sclerosis can be incredibly difficult condition to deal with, however, for those suffering from MS who have tried other forms of treatment with limited success, Active Isolated Stretching can provide a hopeful alternative.